On Saturday I did NOT have a good run. My running group was out on the Kal-Haven trail doing a point to point run. I had 13 miles on my training calendar. Some things about the run I could change, some things I couldn’t. But overall, I believe you can shift a negative run into a positive and that’s what separates the good runners from the mediocre ones. And I think I’m becoming a good runner.
How to have a bad run
1.) Run only a mile all week long
Yup, that was my only mile all week and one of two workouts total for the week. BIG problem. Yeah, I wasn’t feeling that great all week, I was tired, it was rainy, but I cut myself too much slack. Enough slack to hang myself with.
2.) Approach the run with a half-hearted attitude
On Saturday I got out of bed, got back into bed, before decided that I needed to head out the door for this run. I had the “eh, we’ll see where this goes” attitude about the entire run.
3.) Encounter pain (from multiple sources)
So beyond my usual blisters, in the first mile or two of my run I encountered a squeezing pain in the left back knee area. I rubbed it, stretched it, walked awhile, but it didn’t completely go away.
4.) Take frequent walk breaks
Now, I don’t want to hate on walk breaks but in my head I kept telling myself “I can’t do it” and “I can’t keep running”. Then I would stop and walk, which eased some of the pain, but it was always MORE painful to start back to running than before I had stopped. This also, obviously killed my time and was disheartening to be passed frequently and to have to run sans buddies, since I didn’t want to slow anyone else down.
5.) Have sucky music to listen to.
This would have just helped mentally as I hit my stride to have something entertaining to listen to—I’ve got to refresh my playlists!
How to turn your bad run around
1.) Focus on your breathing
I had recently read an article on Runner’s World about rhythmic breathing and since my left side is always more troublesome than my right I decided to incorporate the intake for 3 foot strikes and exhale for 2 foot strikes in my run. And it actually helped! It could all be placebo, but it eased my knee pain and gave me something to focus on.
2.) Find a rhythm
The first 4-5 miles I just couldn’t get my pace in place. But, as I focused on my breathing my rhythm fell in place and running became easier.
3.) Don’t stop running
Around 4 miles I decided I wasn’t stopping until I saw the next aid station (where my running group drops Gatorade, snacks and water) which was 2.5 miles out. At that point I thought I needed to stop and walk, but I really didn’t. As I focused on my breathing and found my rhythm I could run longer and since I wasn’t stopping and starting my pain improved.
4.) Notice and correct your form as you go.
Because I was by myself and not jabbering to my neighbor I began to notice and correct some problems in my form. I noticed when I get tired I actually curl my toes as I run—almost like I’m clenching onto my shoe. Hmm…this could be contributing to my blister issues. So I focused on relaxing my toes as I ran. I also focused on increasing my footfall (shorter steps, more frequently) as I went, shaking out my arms, and running tall.
5.) Dig deep, really want the run.
The longer I ran, the more I wanted to run well. I didn’t want to stop or wuss out. I wanted to finish strong. “It doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish” became my mantra as I ploughed through the wind and snow. And guess, what? It wasn’t an overall great run, but I finished it with a smile of relief and pride on my face. I proved to myself that I could overcome a bad attitude, crappy training, and physical pain; I proved to myself that I am tough and I am becoming a good runner.
Ever had a really bad run? What helped you turn it around?
Also, does anyone have any foam roller suggestions? Looking for cheap, but good!